April 22, 2021

Senator Haskell Supports State Budget Focused on the Future

Bolstering funding for early childhood, K-12 and higher education

HARTFORD – The Democratic co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee yesterday unveiled a proposed biennial state budget that invests in Connecticut students, all without exceeding the state spending cap or touching the $3.5 billion Rainy Day Fund.

State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) thanked the committee chairs for their dedication to improving the lives of young people, noting the full funding for debt-free college, an initiative he championed during his time as Senate Chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee. The PACT, or Pledge To Advance Connecticut, will empower high school graduates in Connecticut to pursue a degree at a community college without going into debt. Tearing down the barrier of affordability has already helped thousands of students enroll in community college, ensuring that Connecticut businesses will have access to a highly-skilled, 21st century workforce.

Sen. Haskell further lauded the budget’s investment in early childhood education, K-12 schools and special education services. “I’m a broken record on this, but I truly believe that students are the best investment we can make, “said Sen. Haskell. “Budgets are about making investments, and this budget bets on young people. It ensures they have access to high-quality early childhood education, protects their right to a high quality public education, and tears down the barrier of affordability that prevents so many from pursuing a degree.”

Highlights include:

  • Keeps the 2017 bipartisan state budget promises related to municipal Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding and maintains the current rollout of the ECS funding formula, providing an additional $108 million to cities and towns over the next two years. It also provides an additional $4.7 million in FY 22 and $9.4 million in FY 23 to school systems with higher numbers of low-income students and English Language Learner students.
  • Fully funds PACT, the debt-free community college program by providing $14 million in FY 22 and $15 million in FY 23 from the estimated FY 21 surplus.
  • Eliminates fees in the Birth to Three program and expands coverage to children who turn age three on or after May 1, until the start of the school year.
  • Promotes diversity in our schools by expanding the Open Choice Program in Fairfield County and providing $275,000 in FY 22 and $900,000 in FY 23.
  • Ensures that students with dyslexia receive appropriate services, providing four positions within the newly established Dyslexia Training Compliance office within the state Department of Education.

The Appropriations Committee budget proposal now forms the basis for legislative branch negotiations with the executive branch budget proposal that was unveiled in February. The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 9.